Tag Archives: By hand London

Flora

The Flora skirt

Way hey! I’m on holiday folk, & does it feel not quite real yet? I still feel I’ve got work tomorrow…looking forward to that passing, oh yes! I was making a list today of the massive sewing bender I have continued since finishing my whiteboard & consequently I have many “F.O.”s to show you. Jeepers- there’s a lot.   I seem to have got a form of sewing madness – now I am no longer “directed” by my whiteboard I’ve got a spontaneity steam engine driving me!!!  I will pace myself for revealing them to you. First up I thought I would show you my red Flora skirt.

Flora skirt

Yes I followed the BHL pattern hack to take the gorgeousness that is the almost circle skirt with knife pleats & box pleats from the Flora dress & make it into a skirt. The idea appealed to my sense of practical but super stylish separates as soon as I saw it.

Flora skirt

You know that usually for me it is the fabric first and pattern second? Well it was the opposite with this. When I was in the hallowed Minerva Halls I searched out a suitable fabric for this very purpose – of course red being my basic colour I gravitated towards the reds first & picked out this viscose as it has the most awesome drape & is light weight enough for a summer skirt. (Actually this is an amazing weight for a summer skirt – really comfy to wear) And at £4.99 per metre it’s a bargain. Now the thing you need to know is that if you make the Flora (dress or skirt) out of less than 60” width fabric you may have to compromise a little on the amount of flare & take a small wedge out of the side seams (drawing / folding a new line from the waist to the hem at the point you run out of fabric!) But I did this with this & my Flora dress & you can’t tell can you?

Flora

Just a note on sewing viscose – by its nature you are getting a drapey fabric but this means it has the tendency to mess you around a bit on curved & bias edges particularly.  Stay stitching the upper edges ( the waist edges) of each piece help counter this.  Also, when hemming such a full skirt, let it hang over night & measure from the floor up – well that’s what I do anyway – I have my hem marker on Barbarella which is such a boon for skirts like this.

Flora skirt

So making the skirt was a cinch. You just add a waistband. And I also added pockets. I managed to find an invisible zip so followed the instructions in the tutorial to the letter, but then added a bit extra. I was intrigued by the invisible zip plus waistband method- & wanted to replicate the zip finishing at the top of the waistband.  My comfort zone is sewing regular zips that would be different – the zip top would end at the seam joining waistband to skirt.

Flora skirt zip

The tutorial gets you to attach the folded waistband to the skirt first & then insert the invisible zip all the way up the waistband & skirt – well, that’s the look I was after wasn’t it? So before I went on with the zip I bias bound the waistband to skirt seam allowance with pretty black polka dot bias as my overlocked edges were a bit on the scruffy side. And after inserting the zip there is a seam allowance coming off from the waistband as well as the skirt & I wasn’t happy that this looked very neat with my two-tone overlocked edges either. So I bound them with polka dot bias as well. (oops, looks a bit mismatched !)  (I used the selvedge edges for the CB seam so no overlocking required there).

Flora

Now I was thinking about how you might add an invisible zip to a skirt all the way up a waistband & not have seam allowances showing. You know, one of those sewing puzzles that occupies a walk to work? And of course you’d have to make the waistband in two pieces – with a facing. Glad I worked that one out.

Flora skirt

So the skirt itself is perfect! It’s got mega swoosh & swing– can you tell?

Flora skirt

I’ve been wearing it a couple of times since I’ve made it to work but it is also darling enough for out of work too. I so like pretty things that suits the two-faces of my wardrobe habits!

Flora  skirt

And two things about the photos.  First I look like death!  I took them before work one morning & it shows that I need a holiday!  But also the blouse is an old make from the 90s.  I love it & it felt to be just the right thing to crack out for the first time I wore my Flora skirt.  It’s made from a posh polyester that I remember cost me more than my habitual cheapskate fabric habits but totally shows that making “investment” purchases, even of fabric pay long term dividends.  It’s survived the years with just a small melt to one of the collar tips with a lazy iron!!  And that’s ironic as it doesn’t always need ironing, being polyester.

So, happy Sunday everyone!!  We’ve got a “mini street party” today with a French theme as it is close to Bastille Day.  That was my contribution – means we can dress up!  Hahaha!!!

Piped Flora bodice

Adding piping to a sleeveless bodice

So I’d mentioned in my Flora dress post that I was going to share how I piped the bodice.   I need to get it right up front – I am not an expert!  There are probably other better ways to do this, but it worked for me – & maybe if you know of a better way you can share in the comments?  Because adding piping to the faux wrap top is an added detail that takes the Flora, or any sleeveless bodice methinks, to the next level, and highlights its pretty front, especially, if like me, you are using a patterned fabric.

Piped Flora bodice
I made my piping out of satin bias binding and piping cord, bought at my local haberdashery. You could make your own bias however.

I think I must have bought about 4m of both, as I piped the armholes and the neck edge. So make your bodice up according to the instructions.   If it’s the Flora, I’d recommend using stay tape on the neckline as shown in the sewalong.

Stay tape neck edge

Now you need to work on the piping once you have sewn the shoulder seams. Prepare your piping as follows:

1. Press open the bias binding if you are using bought bias binding

Piping a bodice
2. Now fold the bias in half and press

Piping
3. Open out the bias binding and Lay the piping cord in the fold

Piping a bodice making piping
4. Fold the bias in half with the cord in the fold and then pin close to the cord, trapping it in the fold

Piping a bodice
5. With your zip foot, sew along the pin line, securing the piping cord as close to the fold as possible. I always leave a bit of cord hanging out both ends just in case movement whilst sewing or later on means that the bias stretches a bit in relation to the cord. I’d much rather have extra cord, as opposed to not enough.

Piping a bodice
Your piping!!
6. On the right side of your bodice, I find it helpful to mark the stitching line, the seam allowance. I am lazy and run a line of long machine basting stitches with the. 1.5cm seam marker on the throat plate, but you could mark it by hand, with a ruler.

Piping a bodice
7. Next pin the piping to the bodice right sides up. You are aiming to pin the piping with the cord on the inside of the seam line and with the ‘seam allowance’ of the piping, ie the bias edges, pointing towards the edges of your bodice.

Piping a bodice
You are pinning the piping in a continuous line around the neckline, and also around each arm hole. Try to position the piping so that you pin as close to the cord as possible and that this pinned line, cuts through your 1.5cm seam line marked at 6. Above.

Piping a bodice

8. For added security and accuracy I then hand baste the piping to the seam line, trying to get as close to the piping cord as possible and trying to make sure that I am still keeping on top of the 1.5cm seam line of the bodice front / sleeve line.

Piping a bodice

Now this basting is really useful as a marker for the next step!
9. Pin the lining to the bodice, right sides together, with the piping sandwiched in between. Flip the bodice over so that you are looking at the shell rather than the lining and move your pins so that you can sew with the bodice shell on top. And look! You have your basting stitches to use as a sewing guide to make sure you get really close to the piping cord.

Piping a bodice
10. Use your zip foot to sew really close to the piping cord. I have a setting on my machine that allows me to move my needle position around to get close and it’s something I make use of for piping!

So, you sew your lining to the bodice shell capturing the piping in between. Open out your bodice and lining as normal and you should see the most awesome sight of a piped bodice! Give yourself a woop wooop and press. And enjoy.

And now the armhole edges

Now the armholes are sewn in the same way, but make sure you leave some piping extending beyond the bodice front and back to give yourself some extra to join up when you complete the side seams. AND possibly it’s a good idea not to sew the piping all the way to the edge of the fabric, but to start sewing 1.5cm in from the edge so that you are leaving a longish piece extending over the seam allowance, un-stitched. I’m guessing this could help, but did not do it myself- I ended up unpicking some of this seam later on as you will see below.

So how do we get a nice finished piped seam when it goes around in a circle like an armhole?
You could just line up your piping and stitch it as a seam, but the trouble with this approach is that it’s not very polished and there is opportunity for piping to fray. The neatest option finishes the piped circular seam almost as if the cord inside is being swallowed up inside a ontinuous (but joined) tube of piping.   If you like to think of it in DIY or is it plumbing terms, consider it to be a “Male/ Female joint”  – if you can bear it.  Or think of it as if the cord ends up being the distance of the armhole circle and the piping needs to be a longer joined tube to overlap itself neatly with the cord safely hidden inside.

Ok so not easy to describe. Even harder to do!! Here’s how I attempted to do it. Maybe there’s a better way- if so I am all ears and eyes – please leave details in the comments!

So, you are about to sew your side seams, lining and bodice. Without piping you would perform this in one simple straight seam. With piping I took it in two: sewing the bodice and the lining, making sure the piping was facing the right way ( ie the cord needs to be positioned so that it is facing towards the bodice shell.  And leaving a small gap between the side seams around the area of the piping.

Piping a bodice

I stopped sewing (but did backstitch to secure the seams) around the piping for my two separated side seams on lining & shell.

Now it’s about handling the piping and first of all working out the finished size of the circle that you want the piping to form- this involves a bit of trial and error to identify where you would join the circle, and for the edges to meet at the side seam. You are not joining it up at this stage, just working out sizes and from there you can work out what’s spare ….bear with me ….
Piping a bodice
So you have an idea of how big your finished circle needs to be, maybe you’ve marked both pieces of piping with pins where you think the join would be. You may need to unpick a small bit of the seam you’ve already made that secures the piping to the armhole and lining….

Trim your piping on one side at this join mark, but leave a good 1.5cm of the other side of the piping.

Piping a bodice - completing a piped circle
This shows the piping being trimmed very close to the join mark.

Piping a bodice - completing a piped circleThis shows the side that is cut with an extra 1.5cm of piping to the mark.

Now it’s time to get rid of some excess cord. For this, first of all grab some of the cord from inside the piping on the piece you’ve cut snug to the join mark and pull a bit extra from the inside, maybe 2-3 mm and trim the cord (not the bias ) off. On the other side you also want to grab some of the cord and trim it so that you do not have any more than is needed to butt against the other side and form a nice complete circle when you join your seam.
What you’re doing, is getting rid of some of the extra bulk made by the cord – but not cutting the bias binding.  You need this !

Piping a bodice - completing a piped circle

Now with the side that you cut 1.5cm longer than your join mark, fold some of the excess bias binding to the inside of the tube so that it forms to make a neat edge – this is the outside tube & will be on show.  Push it over the top of the other end of the piping – hopefully making a nice joined up circle with the join positioned above the side seam of your bodice.
I secured this new circle of piping with hand stitches.

Now reconfigure your lining, and bodice to machine over some of the gaps – eg underneath the piping on the armhole seam – you may need to use your zip foot- and where you are unable to get in with your machine- a few well placed hand stitches should do.

Piping a bodiceThe pink stitching is new stitching, securing the piping at the side seam.  

Piping a bodiceThat’s what it looks like on the outside.  The thread I used was coral, & looks a bit messy on the blue background – but it serves to show what it turns out like better.  And I’m not a perfect sewster!

Wow, that was complicated to explain, and I may have confused you loads. Which is uber sad if that is so, as I had the best of intentions.  Did it help, or did it scare you too much?

flora 5

As I said, I am not an expert, just trying hard to get a neat finish.  Is there a definitive approach for joining piping?  Have I taken the long way?  What is the holy grail of piping a complete circle?  I bet there’s a Threads article somewhere lurking, isn’t there?

I’m exhausted.  Time for a cuppa!  Cheerio for now :-)

By Hand patterns = party wear, no?

After a week that imploded I am now most definitely ON HOLIDAY!!!  For a whole fortnight!!!! Woo hoo!!!

Charlotte 1And this post will do without too many words, as it’d be dangerous after a couple of glasses of Cava accompanying a lunch with my girl friends, but it would be remiss for me not to share what I wore. ….this outfit will become the spirit of Christmas 2013…

charlotte 2

Oh it’s perfection!   This is yet another Charlotte skirt from the talented By Hand girls.   It shouts loud tropical party to me, & the peplum is the icing on the cake….Made from the fabric I bought with my Mum in Truro which she overtly detested (she is into muted colours.  This almost made her vomit hahaha).

charlotte6I will make sure to take this skirt with me when I visit over Christmas!  ( She expects nothing less of me).  I actually managed to eek this skirt out of one metre (it’s true) of fabric by cutting the peplum & waistband in two pieces.   The wild fabric design masks it & it was a gamble worth taking.  The fabric has some stretch to it, perfect for the figure hugging Charlotte skirt…

charlotte 9-001

The top is also unblogged – a batwing jersey top from the December Burda mag.  It is to me a match made in heaven.  I love it.  And it got me thinking.  You see I am already very conscious that these next few weeks are my time to get out there for some parties & I have five party outfits, & guess what?  They are nearly all from the By Hand London catalogue!

charlotte 9There is this skirt.  I have also worn my first Charlotte skirt out for a christmas meal.

charlotte 8I would also consider my leopard print Charlotte skirt totally suitable for getting down (note the irony.  ) Then there is my quintessential party dress, my Elisalex.

charlotte 7And I have two more yet to show you.  One of which is yet another By Hand creation.  Conclusive proof that these girls love to party, am I right?  See what I am saying?

charlotte 5In the meantime, you have been watching some sponatneous shots of me, my outrageous Charlotte skirt & what happens when it comes into contact with some groovy tunes & my ankle boots…& Cava…

charlotte 4 Let the pictures do the talking!

charlotte 3-001Time for some fun, I hope you’re all feeling it too.  What a relief to finish work …time for family & friends & parties!!

charlotte 3

I have yet to reply to the lovely comments from my last post (a week ago …where did it go…oh yes, implosion) but a big thank you to everyone who was kind enough to say how much you also love the Spearmint coat...I will have more head space & time now that the last work week before I broke up is over.

But until then, happy weekend everyone.  Enjoy!!

Party!!! It just has to be the Elisalex dress

Well after a couple of slimline posts this week it is time for one of those makes I’ve been hoarding away from you.

elisalex (2)It won’t surprise you that I have had this pattern for quite a while now, but had never quite got around to making it up.  Fabric was my perennial point of dithering.  However, I am at my most creative when I have a deadline to sew for, & having received an invite for not only a jolly October party, but  also a wedding in November, the Elisalex (with long sleeves) appeared to be my winter party dress solution.

elisalex

Now as you’ll read on the envelope, stiff furnishing fabric is recommended, & I happen to have this gingham furnishing weight fabric from Terry’s Fabrics, but before I made up a gingham frock, I wanted to make me a party dress & happened to remember some viscose jacquard that I’d bought from Birmingham Rag Market.  I can’t believe that this fabric was £1 per metre, clearance!!  It’s LUSH!

So my Elisalex sewing experience was a little flawed in that ages ago I had cut my bodice pieces too small & I’m talking rib-constricting small.  I’m talking super strained zip.  So I had to take another princess seamed bodice that fit me & then created an Elisalex hybrid with all of the gorgeous neckline & low back.

elisalex (6)I think it worked out fine – can you tell that the bodice is not a true Elisalex dress? The rest of the dress came together no problemo.  And the fabric was lovely to sew.  Although it’s not as stiff as the By Hand girls envisioned, it still works nicely & was a lovely weight to be wearing a la party.  It has a little bit of swoosh about it…

elisalex (4)I don’t usually do low backs, but it’s a party dress, isn’t it?  I am keeping the shoulders in place with bra strap retainers – in this case they serve a dual purpose: keeping dress on shoulders & keeping bra straps hidden.

elisalex (3)

I got plenty of dancing in with this little lovely.  I was warm enough not to need a cardigan or jacket, but not too hot that I glowed indecorously.  And it’s all sorted for the wedding now…nice!

elisalex (5)

And now I have a custom fitting Elisalex bodice I can go Elisalex crazy like Dolly Clackett!!  I am so looking forward to a winter day Elisalex dress in gingham with a red empire line bow…

Bet Lynch and Donald Trump would come to blows for this

Question: What do you get if you cross Miss Demeanour and Handmade Jane?

Well, read on & you can find out, knowing that it was these two lovelies that were particularly inspirational in my latest make.  And whilst it’s autumn, a new season to sew for & my head’s been swimming with ideas about what to make, I haven’t got a plan & until write it down I am afraid I am going to get pulled in different directions.  I sense a blog post containing a plan coming…when I force myself to engage the rational organised side of my brain that is & put fingers to keyboard.

Remember this?

Until I make a plan though, spontaneity reigns.  When I have energy that is, I seem to react after seeing something truly gorgeous someone  is sharing in their blog & my imagination & sense of possibility is lured down a new pathway.  At the moment I am weak, oh so weak! (I have so many things to blame marathon training for!!) This make therefore is a quick & dirty one.  Above is the tease I left you with.

Victoria Blazer (2)

And what has it become?  Not sportswear hahaha, even though it was shown during a Great North Run post!  Why, it’s become my own Victoria Blazer from ByHand London.  There have been too many sensational examples splashed across the blogosphere & whilst I kept reading what a simple jacket it is to make, I was not convinced about the particular shape for me.  And talk about being late for the Victoria Blazer party?  I arrived just in time to do the clearing up collecting cans, bottles & paper plates in bin bags, that’s how late I am….

Victoria Blazer 5I don’t suit boxy.  Thanks to Jane though who made a version in a knit I could hold out no more.  Jane had made a few mods including shaping the side seams.  Jane says she doesn’t do boxy either, yet Jane’s version looked so spivvy that I was sold.  I ordered the pattern that day.

Victoria Blazer 3I had no plan for fabric until I remembered some purple Morgan Crepe Jersey that I had spontaneously ordered from Minerva as part of a larger order I’d made a couple of months ago.  I ordered it not knowing really what I was ordering, or what I was going to make but the description & price looked too good to ignore.  This is a mid weight knit in a beautiful plum colour (I’m into plum & purple at the moment).  This fabric could be a lovely autumn dress or skirt or maybe even some lounge pants…..  or a jacket!!

Victoria Blazer 4The Victoria blazer is lined and it was only through reviewing the sewalong and examples of wow jackets being showcased that I remembered Miss Demeanour’s fetching meow jacket with faux animal lining.  Why I had some fluffy animal print stashed away as a result of some gifted by Suzy at a blogger meet up.  It looks wild with the plum!  The plan was hatched.

Victoria Blazer

And it is true what everyone has said – this is a simple jacket to make.  I prepared by some reading through of the pattern instructions & sewalong posts, but really could have followed the instructions there & then.  So construction then was straight forward.  I used my overlocker for most of the seams – except those mainly relating to the collar/ lapels/ centre front.  I really liked the front over-the-shoulder dart & the way that the collar & lapels are attached.  I did not line the sleeves by the way, & whilst I entertained the idea of adding patch pockets, I didn’t follow that one through either.  My revisions  were just side seam shaping & shortening at the hem.

Victoria Blazer 7 (2)

What has worked less well, & I blame myself, (who else ?!) is the whole collar sitting nice & flat job.  I should have added some interfacing to the collar & lapels with hindsight – they are a bit floppy.  The softness of the plum knit combined with the more bulky fluffy lining means that the centre front edges are not as crisp as I’d like – added with the floppy lapels make me compulsively straighten them & pull them down as I am wearing it.

Victoria Blazer 7Left to its ultra floppiness.  Need.to.straighten.lapels.

I have top stitched this edge, through the collar & lapels to help set them in place, as well as strategically catch-stitching the underneath of the lapels & collar to the jacket front.

The hem is also a little disappointing in that the lining peeps out- this I blame on multiple factors – the way the two fabrics work together & the sloppiness of the seamstress! And let’s throw in marathon training too – told you it can be blamed for almost anything ;-)

But all in all, considering I have not had the time & energy to sew much recently I have been enjoying wearing it.   It’s a good extra layer for this time of year.

Victoria Blazer 6

Maybe not for work ..

I feel I need to get my leopard skin brothel creepers out & sugar water my quiff….or let’s channel some Trump/ Lynch…they both have *amazing* hair …

Victoria Blazer 9Being modelled with my ByHand Charlotte skirt would you know!

Victoria Blazer 8Neat look!!

My Courtly Anna dress from By Hand London

I want to make my version of this dress …just like this, in black with the slash neck

Source: By Hand London

This is what pulled me in – this dress exactly.  And I WILL make it.  I am fancying it will be in black linen.  But first I was propelled into making my first version with stash fabric after not being able to repel the Anna storms that have been breaking out across the internet….so here’s the story…

anna 4

Lizzy had the right idea- she of three Annas.  The Anna dress is a dress you want to capture as you move.  It has something of the middle ages about it.  I feel like a lady wearing it.  A lady in waiting perhaps? (Although waiting for what, I don’t know)

anna 8

Maybe it’s because this is the only dress that has turned me to the “maxi” length.  It’s not new, but it is to me.  I had a brief fling with a maxi skirt last summer & all I wanted to do was to be caught walking through the sea with it.

I haven’t worn it since, but that’s not because of the salt.  (It awaits transformation …)

anna 2

The Anna dress from By Hand London though?  I still feel as if I am wearing a combination of a nightie or as Roisin put it, as close to a sari as you can get without it being a sari.  But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, it just means that it is outside my usual clothing zone.  But I think it’s worth it.  I already want to make more.  I REALLY want to make a black slash neck maxi Anna (have you got that by now?!) and then a slash neck midi Anna.  And I want to make one for my son’s girlfriend.  She complimented me on this Anna & I could just see her wispy graceful form floating around in a classically simple but super chic maxi dress.

anna 3

So OK, onto my first make opinion.  Everyone who has made this dress raves about how quick it is to make & it’s true.  Choosing the fabric & eeking out what I had was the hard part.  I so wanted to have enough of the fabric I used to make my kimono as an Anna, but absolutely no dice.  (It’s available now here at Minerva by the way, described as a voile & I think it would make a glorious Anna) .The fabric’s pattern had a definite right way up & the skirt pattern pieces are flipped around all over the fabric’s pattern direction, which wasn’t going to work with my 2m!  By the way, thank you Karen for advising that you can lop off about 9” off the hem & still have enough to trip over (as a shorter person that is!).

So fabric choices from my stash were limited.  Luckily I had a length of this blue dotty fabric acquired from Abakhan in May.  No pattern direction at all.  It became my first Anna.  I seemed to want to make it quickly though, since everyone had said what a quick make it was, I too needed it to be quick.  Therefore although I absolutely lurve the slash neckline, I was afraid it might fall too high & I wasn’t prepared to make any time consuming alterations…so I went v neck.

anna 5

I used French seams where I could to construct the dress.  Does anyone else use their serger/ overlocker for the first stage of French seams like I do?  It eliminates the need to trim seams before turning, pressing & sewing the second seam that encloses the first seam?

anna 6

And just like everyone else I also lurve the bust darts- so pretty!  Now I think my bodice could do with a bit taken out of it for next time – the neckline gapes by about 1.5” (& that was after I’d taken a few tucks in the pattern’s neckline before cutting out the fabric) .  I also shaved off a slim wedge at the centre back which seems to have been enough.  But the fit of the rest of it seems pretty good.

anna 1

For once I made a special trip to get an invisible zip and I think it’s worth it, having put it in.  A nice neat finish.  One question I’ve got of the Amazing TaraCat though….how on earth can you get this dress on without a zip?  I am surely not able to get it over my head.

The front split – oh laughs!  I misread the pattern markings & my first seam ended to create a split that was almost pelvic!  Ha ha.  That didn’t stay.  I also read that Lizzy regretted machining hers since it is on display so much, so I took the time to hand sew it, & I am glad that I did.  I also hemmed by hand so that is also invisible.

anna 7

It’s been very much a home dress so far though.  I swaddled myself in it last Sunday after my long run.  The day was grey & cooler & my legs needed some coverage.  At one point I really was the medieval lady when the pashmina came out to wrap around my upper body.  You see this dress & cardigans do not really mix in my view.  It’s too courtly….anyway, it was very much a lounging and entertaining at home dress on Sunday.  And since, it has been a working at home dress.  Padding around the house with bare feet collecting hot drinks & tapping away at my desk.

All this explains its slightly wrinkled appearance in case you were wondering!  It’s being used !!

I do however have a vision of Anna maxi dresses with ankle boots & wrinkled down socks.  A bit of a festival frock perhaps?

 

Jungle January Charlotte Skirt

At last, I am able to reveal my new fave skirt.  This is my second iteration of the adorable Charlotte Skirt, By Hand London.  Here is my first (very wearable & multi-occasional ).  This latest version was conceived way back in October when the Charlotte pattern was first released & Suzy & I met at the Birmingham Rag Market meet up.  Suzy was kind enough to give me this fabric which was left over after her awesome “Rock Chick Clovers” & the seed was sown….It is a velvet-like needle cord & has a stretchy element to it.  Lovely!  Nice & warm for the winter & should see me into Spring too.

It was “Jungle January”, the  challenge instigated by Annie at Pretty Grievances that willingly pushed this make higher up my list.  The aim, to cloak the interweb in animal print me-mades during January.  Here is mine….

jungle jan

See it?  No?  OK, I’ll come out a bit more…

jungle jan

Are you sure it’s safe to come out?  Ok, I’ll lose the disguise as well & show you a few looks for this skirt.  First of all, earlier this week, it frolicked with the other snow leopards & my fleece Renfrew  & Ooh La La Leggings

Charlotte snow-005

But then it melted & it was time to party- the downhill ice rink has retreated!!

I’m flinging pics at you because I haven’t much to add about the making.  It is a great pattern, I’ve told you before.  i love it.  I used the dental floss gathering method again, summarised in this lil collage below

2013_01_27 Jungle January Charlotte SkirtThat floss is as tough as you need it to be to get all that length of gathering done, & with fabric as thick as velvet-cord it needs to be heavy duty.  It’s really easy – just use a slightly wider zig zag than normal.

charlotte2

Here we are from behind- I didn’t use a concealed zipper again, purely because I didn’t have one …

JJ Charlotte 1

So I’m pleased with it – & it’s comfy as well as smart.  I still couldn’t bring myself to break the formula that I love & chose the hem not the peplum.  I’m sorry, just couldn’t do it!!

It’s Love, Charlotte Skirt: part 2

IT’S OFFICIAL – COMMENTS ARE WORKING!!  A whole choir of trumpeting angels has taken a break from carol singing & is covering a Stevie Wonder song in celebration (in my head anyway!)  Those fab tech guys have persevered & have got it all sorted for me – thank you Page.ly.  Now I am able to let loose some stored up posts, & have even recovered some (but not all ) of the comments you were brave enough to try for me – I will answer them shortly :-)

So, onto the Charlotte skirt.  Which way did I go?  Peplum or hem ruffle.  Let’s start at the beginning ….

I have to admit that I nearly passed out in a Victorian swoon when I first clapped eyes on the Charlotte skirt, a By Hand London design.  I only had thoughts for the version with the hem ruffle, but but as we know, it also allows a peplum design as well as a super curvy unadorned pencil skirt.  It was simply dreamy.  I was imagining it made in suiting for work, a plain black one also for work & in peacock print for playtime.  And I’m not revealing yet the most exciting variant I have in mind….

But hang on, isn’t it “just” a simple pencil skirt with a frill?  I did wonder this myself, but with some self awareness knew that even if I could replicate this myself I surely would not get around to it in the near future & I was frothing with craving for a frilled skirt once I had seen the Charlotte.  So as soon as it was released I swooped.  It became mine. And let me tell you this is not “just” a pencil skirt with frill variations.  Let me stop any such thoughts interfering right now & carry on with the love affair….

Here it is…..peplum or ruffle…first sighting…

As soon as I’d ordered, Charlotte, the co-founder was straight in email conversation chatting (I could gauge her excitement) – really approachable (nice to meet you Charlotte :-)  ) When the pattern arrived it was packaged so thoughtfully, you could tell that this was an important element of their product: a sturdy cerise cardboard package with slip cover containing booklet & pattern (& I loved Charlotte’s character description on the cover ).  Sadly Charlotte had the difficult job of trying to reign me in as a temporary glitch meant a pause before the tissue patterns were reissued.  But, I could not wait!  It is a skirt, not a complex dress.  I was happy to make my own tweaks to the pattern by making a muslin & measuring pattern pieces in advance of cutting.

I took it slowly, as you know I have a number of things vying for my attention at the moment afterall, & plenty of Christmas makes I should be busy with (if I made it too quickly guilt would surely make its entry – slow make in between other projects = minimal guilt) .  I used some wool mix that I had bought at a previous trip to Birmingham’s Rag market in a woolly plum mix colour.  I didn’t have an invisible zip so sewed a lapped zipper, which I’m OK with, but I can imaging it looking a lot sleeker with an invisible zip.

Bit by bit I put it together & I tried it on as I went, adjusting the side seams & lengthened the darts slightly.   This is not unusual for me sewing skirts, particularly such a style as this which is meant to fit well, hugging those curves.  But it was a straightforward make, it is said to be suitable for a beginner afterall.

I left the ruffle & the length till last, having sewn the waistband, button hole & button before deciding on where to cut off the hem & where to place the ruffle.  It was really fascinating messing around with ruffle placement – I had discounted the peplum thinking that it would make me look too hip heavy- but actually it’s cute (& Rachel totally rocks her peplum Charlotte here).

This pattern could be worn by someone far more leggy than me – I had a good 12″ to cut off, but not before I tried various lengths out along the way.

The ruffle is made on the fold so that there is no hem.  Gathering is made through a double layer – it attaches to the skirt & the fold forms the hem.  You saw here that I used a zig zag plus dental floss gathering method.  I am really pleased how this turned out, but will not be able to recycle the floss for another ruffle (but perhaps it can still be used for flossing :-s  – joke!)

The only thing I would say is that the instructions might not quite provide enough information for a complete beginner to attach the ruffle, & the method suggested for gathering was by making hand stitches- which I bet would give you lots of control, but not for me I’m afraid, there is  a lot of ruffle to gather & if I hadn’t used the floss method I would certainly have used  my machine for basting & I would even tempted to reinvestigate my ruffler foot on my overlocker….

But, before attaching the ruffle I had a dilemma about the skirt’s length & once again the approachable Charlotte responded to my query about the ideal length.  I wanted to make sure that the wonderful siren lines created by the curves would not be ruined by me hacking too much off.  I was interested to know about her sense of proportion in the design.  Her advice was to cut the hem (of the ruffled variety) about 2″ above the knee so that the ruffle falls just below the knee when it is finished.  But check out By Hand’s Blog for other hem variations such as this one by Elisalex.

Now, back to the style again.   I have to tell you that there is some serious shaping going on in this design: it is no ordinary pencil skirt.  This little number has CURVACIOUS written all over it.  The double darts work really well, the designed ease at hips & sweeping curve to the hem highlight the hourglass.  The hem is a hobble hem (not that I know if there is a strict definition to that, but I cannot walk in my usual stride).  It was something else that I queried with Charlotte, you see my original plans to make this into a work skirt out of suiting required it to be possible to perform my customary 2 mile walk to & from work each day (with galloping great hills).  Could this skirt fit the bill, or would it be destined for more genteel use (permanently adorned with a glass of bubbly perhaps?).

When I wore it to work it was a driving day to our offices in another town.  Even getting into the driving seat requires more decorum than my usual ungainly split leg approach.  But I tottered into the office with my heeled boots (not worn much these days due to aforementioned habit of yomping) feeling so girly & well fitted.  This skirt is super feminine & making it in wool was very cosy.   I did not feel “too fitted” as sitting down was fine & didn’t result in an urge to undo the waistband as soon as no one was looking.  The pattern suggest using fabric with a little stretch & I do have some lined up for later versions, however, this wool mix doesn’t really have much give, & I can assure you it is comfortable, it really doesn’t feel like the kind of skirt you get “poured into”.  The only thing that did make me smile was thoughts of the hem, & how it barely fits over your hips, when you need to, erm, raise your skirt in the “smallest” room.

Oh how I adore this pattern!!!!  I want to make many many more.  I want to make “the” one that I have in mind in time for party season, but first need to get gift sewing under control….I also fancy a mini version that could well possibly be better suited to hiking up & down gradients.  I think there will come a time when I go peplum too, now that my paranoia about adding to my hips has been dampened.  However I have to say that I am devoted to the hemline ruffle will I be able to make that departure?

With the Elisalex dress, what a fantastic first pair of designs from By Hand.  Can’t wait to see what comes next (no pressure!!)  And I wonder if my boys are brave enough to buy me this dress pattern for Christmas – it is on my wishlist!?!  I so fancy making the long sleeved version …

Now if you do fancy leaving a comment, it should be working & the lovely ladies at By Hand will be able to see what you think …..Bye for now all – I am so happy to be functioning again! :-)